Addressing needs, finding solutions, implementing policy: contributions to the evidence base for modern mental health services
Minghella, Edana Louise
The National Service Framework for Mental Health (NSF) (1999) and the National Plan (2000) have stimulated a sea change in mental health care. The challenge for services is how to deliver the changes effectively to address local needs, diversity and resources. This project contributes by presenting three linked but discrete papers prepared for publication. They derive from research studies within which the author took a principal role.\ud \ud The first paper analyses the needs, packages of care and clinical outcomes for people in touch with mental health services in three areas of England. It asked, what can we learn about whether, and how effectively, services match need, indifferent service and socio-demographic environments?\ud \ud The second paper describes the implementation of two voluntary sector Assertive Outreach teams, their adherence to the Assertive Community Treatment model and outcomes for their users. It asked, how effective are voluntary sector-based Assertive Outreach teams at engaging appropriate clients and improving their clinical and social outcomes?\ud \ud The third paper examines the experiences and pathways through care for young black men with severe mental illness. It asked what are the key issues affecting their pathways through care and can training GP practices improve the situation?\ud \ud Taken together, three key findings emerged:\ud 1. People with severe mental health problems receive greater than average support from modern mental health systems. However, more care for people with greater need will be more expensive if this consists mainly of inpatient care rather than alternative enhanced community based services.\ud \ud 2. Positive outcomes can be, and are, achieved, even for those with the most severe needs. However, services are not standardised and care pathways to and through them are not always clear, appropriate or smooth. Not adhering to clear, evidence-based models may compromise services' effectiveness.\ud \ud 3. Some vulnerable people still miss out on positive care, especially those who cannot, or will not, willingly engage with services. People with frequent admissions to hospital, homeless people, people with a dual diagnosis and young black men may not have equal access to the services they need, even when services are apparently set up specifically for them.\ud \ud Pawson & Tilley's 'realistic evaluation' model of contexts, mechanisms and outcomes is used as a framework for critical reflection on the project as a whole. The political and professional context for the studies, and their conduct,\ud methodologies, findings and implications for service development are explored extensively.
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